New zip code brings problems

July 29, 2008 5:05:16 PM PDT
There are new zip codes in three Houston-area communities. We first told you about the changes early last month. Now, we're hearing from residents who say the transition hasn't been a smooth one. One woman was even told she'd lost health insurance coverage because of it.The US Post Office says it changed the zip code to speed mail delivery and make life better in this ever growing community. One woman says it's done anything but that.

Ever since Michelle Robinson's zip code changed this month, she's had trouble buying anything online.

"It's real frustrating," she said.

And forget using the credit or debit card at the pump. It won't recognize the new zip either.

"It's going to make you crazy after a while," Robinson said. "It's real frustrating."

On July 1, Sugar Land's zip code, 77478, was split in two. Robinson now lives with nearly 16,000 others in 77498. After a lot of research and hours of phone calls, Robinson figured out merchants, her bank and her credit card company weren't aware of the switch.

"You wouldn't think something so simple could disrupt so many things," Robinson said.

But she figured she could tolerate the inconveniences until they worked out the kinks -- that is, until her doctor's office called saying her "well woman" visits were apparently no longer covered by her insurance. They said it was because she now lived in an "out of service" area, even though she's lived in the same house for the past eight years.

"It was just kind of the straw that broke the camel's back," Robinson told Eyewitness News. "Now they've gone too far."

So she called Eyewitness News, and we called the US Postal Service.

USPS spokesperson Dave Lewin said, "If there's a problem, we want to be part of the solution."

Lewin says this is the first time he's heard of any problems of this magnitude since the zip code change. Although he says both Robinson's insurance company and her husband's employer should have received information about the zip code, he says it is possible that that information has simply not trickled down to the right people.

"It can happen, but it is certainly an isolated incident," he said.

Robinson says some of her neighbors, though, have expressed similar concerns.

United Health Care says Robinson's health coverage never changed. They're still trying to figure out why that claim was denied.

The other two communities affected by the zip code changes are Baytown and Richmond. In Baytown, the 77520 zip code is now 77523. And Richmond's 77469 zip code is now split into 77406 and 77407.

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